'I'd say we could nearly put a statue of him up' - proud Clara locals hail Shane Lowry's British Open win as 'unbelievable'
Proud Clara locals have hailed Shane Lowry’s performance at the British Open as "unbelievable" as they gear up for a hectic homecoming which they expect to be "seven days long."
While Lowry battled his way to victory through unfavorable conditions in Portrush, floods of locals flocked to Esker Hills golf club in Tullamore, Offaly.
Esker Hill, a club hailed for giving Lowry’s his start in golf, was packed with locals all fighting to get a closer glimpse of the TV screen in the bar. Staff were run off their feet as they try to keep the eager fans fed and their thirst quenched.
Right in the nub of the rowdy crowd, Lowry’s granduncle and vice-captain, Thomas Newman with former vice, Pat Clavin are sat in a prime spot in front of the TV screen.
Talk to ya later folks we are gonna PARTY!!!! #TEAMLOWRY 🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪🇮🇪— Esker Hills Golf (@EskerHills) July 21, 2019
"He’s done great things here for the young lads, he’s unbelievable. He supports everything. You just have to say it to him that there’s something on this week or next week, there’s no problem - he’ll sponsor it," Newman said.
"He’s done us so proud. We’re over the moon. We’ll certainly have a homecoming for him if it suits his schedule, we’ll welcome him big time," he added.
Clavin added: "His father Brendan Lowry, Dominic Flemming, Austin Hanley, and Ger Egan, they are the backbone of the junior set up here. There is a very healthy junior set up here.
"Shane basically bankrolls it, he looks after them, he’s very good that way. His influence here is strong."
Ray Molloy, a director of Esker Hills said he "can't believe" Lowry's success.
"I can't believe it's happening to us. A small little club, 200 members. A young fella that came here, a 12-year-old, hopping around playing golf with his father, after a year or two he showed promise and since he's gone from strength to strength.
"We thought when he won the Irish Open that it couldn't get better for us. Then he went to America and played a few games and we thought it couldn't get better than that. We thought he might win a major one day.
"This will make such a difference to Esker Hills, it will put us on the map. We just cannot believe it.
"The homecoming will be seven days long," he added.
Joe Duffy, a member of Esker Hills, said Lowry’s performance was "unbelievable", and that the professional golfer has made the club "proud".
"We've been following him Thursday, Friday, and after yesterday we said we’d drop everything - we have to be out here.
"This place will be unbelievable when he comes back. I was here when he won the Irish Open. This is another step. I’d say they could nearly put a statue of him out there.
"The course here is so unique. It’s set up like a links course. From a young lad, he’s put in hours of practice here and it’s paid off. It’s hard - a lot of people don’t like it and a lot of people do, it’s like Marmite here. It’s tough, but that’s why he has all the shots.
"This is a local club here. From where he’s come from and where he is now, he’s made us proud."
Next to Duffy, club member Adrian O’Reilly recalls playing alongside Lowry in his younger days.
"His performance has been amazing. I played with him when he was a young lad. He’s still the same chap. He’s so humble.
"He’s always made us proud, even before this week. His reception will be huge. There are a thousand kids and young men in their 20s playing golf now in Clara that would never have even picked up a club if it wasn’t for Shane. Guys that would never have even considered golf until Shane. He’s huge," he added.
Carmel McEvoy, joined by her daughter Michelle, plans on staying in the club all evening to celebrate Lowry’s success: "I got up this morning and started watching it. I thought we wouldn’t get in when we came. I wouldn't usually follow golf but I’d watch him any time he’s playing."